It is now indisputable that our mind does in fact play a significant role in controlling the state of our health. We now know that our minds can change our biology, our DNA. In “The Biology of Belief” Bruce Lipton, Ph.D, a cell biologists, shares his others research that shows that “your perceptions have the power to change your genetic makeup-your beliefs can and do control your biology.”
If you doubt the power of the mind in relation to your health then please consider the story of the placebo effect.
The placebo is a simulated or otherwise medically ineffectual treatment for a disease or other medical condition intended to deceive the recipient. Sometimes patients given a placebo treatment will have a perceived or actual improvement in a medical condition, a phenomenon commonly called the placebo effect.
The power of the placebo effect is illustrated in the movie classic, The Wizard Of Oz. The wizard didn’t actually give the scarecrow a brain, the tin man a heart, and the lion courage, but they all felt better anyway.
The roots of the placebo problem can be traced to a lie told by an Army nurse during World War II as Allied forces stormed the beaches of southern Italy. The nurse was assisting an anesthetist named Henry Beecher, who was tending to US troops under heavy German bombardment. When the morphine supply ran low, the nurse assured a wounded soldier that he was getting a shot of potent painkiller, though her syringe contained only salt water. Amazingly, the bogus injection relieved the soldier’s agony and prevented the onset of shock.
In medical research, placebos are given as control treatments and depend on the use of measured deception.
Different studies of the placebo effect report wildly different results. One survey of 117 trials of two ulcer drugs found that, depending on the trial, patients in the placebo group had anywhere from zero to a 100 percent recovery rate.
Our attitudes towards our health, are we optimistic or pessimistic, goes a long way towards determining our ability to overcome poor health.
Research shows we are what we think – we can think our way to happiness or sadness. If you don’t believe this try watching a movie and stay tuned to you’re emotions as the movie plays out. Fantasy, even our own make believe, does in fact change our emotions, and our biochemistry.
Try staying sad after staring into a mirror and smiling for five minutes. Like wise, if you wake up and decide today is going to be a bad day and continue to look for reasons for it to a bad day – guess what – it will be a bad day. We tend to get what we think about.
It can be hard to maintain a positive mindset even when we are healthy.
However when you have a chronic illness like fibromyalgia and or CFS/ME it can be a real challenge to keep a positive, optimistic view.
When we feel bad it is easy to get into what my mentor, Zig Ziglar, used to call “stinkin thinkin.”
You need to realize that getting healthy, as demonstrated throughout the book, The Happiness Project, is about healing the entire body, not just parts and pieces. To be free of poor health one most become aware of the importance of healthy mental hygiene.
Just as studies show that that even an artificially induced smile brings about happier emotions, being conscious of and determined to change our attitude yields positive results.
In her book, The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin relates how her “fake it till you make it” strategy did in fact yield more energy and or happiness.
The great psychologist, William James, wrote that, “action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not.”
In other words, yes, sometimes you have to fake it till you make it.
However I’ve found that those who do fake it, put a positive spin on their daily health challenges, will find the energy and mental fortitude to overcome their illness.
Tapping Into Your Inner Self
One of the healthiest things you can do in this lifetime is to learn to rise above the constant mind chatter, especially negative thinking, by quieting your mind and allowing your inner self to flourish. You’ll start to realize how negative and self-destructive thoughts sabotage your innate desire to be healthy. Life’s true game is less about controlling your surroundings and more about letting go of unwanted negative thoughts—much like shedding layers of clothes when entering a warm room. The ability to control our minds by understanding, acknowledging, and choosing which thoughts, emotions, and feelings serve us best is perhaps the key that unlocks optimal health.
I love this idea from Vietnamese spiritualist, Thich Nhat Hanh, in his book, Peace Is Every Step, “breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile.”
Conscious breathing is one way to integrate your mind and body. Focusing on breathing, using mantras (repetitive sounds), and/or visualizing a word or a soothing scene are central to most meditative practices. In basic breathing exercises, all you need is a quite place and a willingness to quiet the mind. Conscious breathing reduces stress and allows you to filter out the constant mind chatter.
Bring your attention to your breathing. Notice the flow of breath in and out of your lungs. Take a deep breath in through your nose, allowing the air to fill your lungs. Slowly exhale through your mouth. Observe the rhythm that naturally occurs. Acknowledge any distracting thoughts, and simply let them go when they appear. Return your attention to the rhythm of your breathing. Continue to take deep breathes in and out. When it feels natural, try allowing more time between each breath. Pause when appropriate, and feel the inner peace. Enjoy the freedom from mind chatter.
However, it is a known fact that changing your mindset to a more positive one will definitely make your life better. I’d rather try to control the mind and harness its powerful chemicals, happy thoughts create happy chemicals, than make no attempt at all.
Merely knowing that what we think about we experience is enough to help most change directions and when possible not to get into pattern of daily “stinkin thinkin.”